ginger and salt

midwestern mediterranean: avec.

Okay guys, I’ve been really bad about posting.  I’ve eaten so many good things but haven’t gotten around to sharing them, so I apologize.  Summer brought several wonderful adventures both at home and abroad, but I’ve finally settled into my new home in the Windy City and am back in the game.

As one would expect, life as a grad student has involved a lot more scrambled eggs and toast and a lot less eating out. Luckily my dad was passing through town for 48 hours on a work trip, which was just enough time to grab a bite at a place that’s been at the top of my Chicago bucket list: Avec.  (Shout-out to my trusted restaurant advisor, Ryan Mitrovich, for the tip.)

I’ll try to make this short because it’s past my bedtime and there is still homework to do for tomorrow’s class, but my dad and I had the BEST night at Avec.  Per the website, it’s described as a Midwestern take on Meditteranean food. They don’t take reservations, but fortunately we got lucky and scored two seats at the bar.  (Granted, it was a Wednesday at 7, but the space was soon completely packed.)  If you’re dining alone or with Mick Fleming, a person loves nothing more than talking to strangers, the bar is the place to be.

The space is very sleek and minimalist, and everything seems to be made of wood.  In a city where (in my limited experience) large restaurants seem to be more the norm than the exception, Avec is small and cozy and reminded me a lot of home in a good way.

IMG_5519We started with cocktails: a bourbon Manhattan for my dad per usual, a fun tequila drink called the Shandy Ernesto for me.  We then shared an amazing dish of Charred Corn Tabbouleh with freekah (a Middle Eastern grain), peaches, radishes, green olives, and tahini.  It was SO good.

IMG_5524Next up: Shawarma Sausage with crisp pita, pickled onions, cucumber, and smoked yogurt. This was also amazing.  It reminded me of a gourmet, deconstructed gyro except sub the mystery meat with wonderful sausage.  The smoked yogurt was dreamy.

IMG_5525It’s a tough call, but I think my favorite dish of the night was the Burrata Cheese Pizza with calabrian chiles, garlic, and squash blossoms.  I mean, need I say more? Burrata. Pizza. Bye.

IMG_5526We were still hungry so we ordered the Roasted Wild Salmon with sumac, fresh garbanzo beans, and a roasted beet-walnut muhammara.  As I’ve mentioned before, my dad is obsessed with muhammara (especially if it is made by a one Maria Hines).  It’s hard to compete with salmon in Seattle, but this one definitely held its own.  The beautiful beet-colored muhammara was lovely, too.

IMG_5527We ended with Parmesan Pound Cake with roasted plums and candied pine nuts.  I love a good salty and sweet dessert and this definitely fit the bill.  It was dense and very filling though, so next time I might opt for something a little lighter.  We still cleaned the plate, don’t worry.

IMG_5529

I’ve only been in Chicago for five weeks now, but as I was sitting at the bar, glass of rosé in hand, watching my dad befriend the couple next to us, I felt very much at home.

Avec, 615 West Randolph, Chicago, IL 60661, http://www.avecrestaurant.com, Open for Dinner Monday – Sunday, with Sunday Brunch as well.  No reservations.

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4 comments

  1. so glad you are back. My tastebuds depend on it . . . and so they got an overdue revival tonight, as did my creative culinary juices. thanks for the needed inspiration about something that brings me such joy – eating great food.

  2. porser@comcast.net

    We just got home from France where we had exceptional food especially on our barge trip through Burgundy with 6 people (Davis – Orser – Carletti couples) and a private chef. Your post reminds me that we have exceptional food in the good old USA too! Keep the posts coming but mind your school work too. We miss you so much. xoxoxo L

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